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Newsletter #73: August 2006

vintage Paris photo

Secrets of Paris Newsletter #73: August 31, 2006


* Heather’s News
* Entertainment: Cité de la Musique Free Shuttle
* Accommodation: Hotels Under 50 Euros
* Sightseeing: Visit the Crown of Thorns
* Nightlife: Dancing at the Caveau de la Huchette
* Sightseeing & Entertainment: Relive the Belle Epoch in Style
* Practical Info: Paris Airport Info
* History: Vintage Articles on Paris
* Shopping: Paris Fashion Directory Online
* Adventure: Cycling and Horse Racing
* Paris Poet Touring the US
* September Events on the Calendar

* Heather’s News *

Why is it that I feel like I start every newsletter out the same? Maybe from now on you can all just assume two givens: I’ve been super busy, and the weather has been super bizarre. I stayed in Paris this August because I had so much fun last year (see the archive: http://www.secretsofparis.com/63-august-2005) and I thought it would be a great time to relax, work on my website, and enjoy plenty of picnics at the open-air cinema and free concerts at Paris Plage. But nooooooooo…..like a big ol’ dork, I took on a guidebook updating assignment at the end of July that was due the end of August, therefore pretty much guaranteeing I’d be in front of my computer for at least half of every day this month.

And then there was the weather. I only had four tours this month, but every single one of them was under a downpour. It got so chilly at one point that I had to go unearth my hat and scarf and fall coat from storage (and put the fan back in until next summer). Totally not cool, especially after getting roasted alive during the last three weeks of July. On the plus side, it’s a lot easier to work in Paris when the weather is crappy, and there was a major reprieve when the sun came out for the Rock-en-Seine festival last weekend (see blog report: www.secretsofparis.com/rock-en-seine-2006). It’s shining today, even if it is still a tad chilly (72°F) and damp.

September will probably be fabulous, but I won’t know because I’m going away for my World Tour. Well, my Anglo-American, tour anyway: Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco, San Diego, and then London. If I get stuck at too many airports, there will be a September newsletter. If the traveling goes smoothly, then I’ll be enjoying my vacation, relaxing with friends, newsletter be d*mned. Y’all understand, right?

In the meantime, check out the calendar of events (www.secretsofparis.com/calendar) for things to see and do in September. La Rentrée is always packed full of exciting things to do in Paris, so no excuses to be bored! See you in October! – Heather

* Entertainment: Cité de la Musique Free Shuttle *

Have you ever gone to a concert or late night event only to be stuck in a long line waiting for a taxi afterwards because the metro has stopped running? The Cité de la Musique up at La Villette has come up with a very practical solution, providing concert-goers with a free shuttle that stops in different areas of Paris ( Gare du Nord, République, Hôtel-de-Ville , Luxembourg and Denfert-Rochereau). It may not be door-to-door, but it certainly gets you closer so you can walk or get a cheaper taxi. For more info visit the website: http://www.cite-musique.fr/anglais/cite/acces.html

* Accommodation: Hotels Under 50 Euros *

I usually have a good laugh when people ask me to recommend good hotels under 100 euros. Particularly Americans, who have a completely different idea of what “good” means than Europeans. For the average “good” room, I would say you should budget €150 per night. But if you’re a bit less picky, don’t need three closets to store your suitcases, and prefer to save your euros for shopping and dining and drinking and dancing, then there are plenty of budget options. Eurocheapo.com has been a favorite, but yesterday I found another one, Paris35.com. They’re a central booking agency for about 100 Paris hotels, apartments and B&Bs that are about €35/night (prices can be up to €50 in high season, and there’s a €5 booking fee). They’re screened for the three essential elements: location, cleanliness, and safety. Just don’t expect Egyptian cotton sheets or complimentary toiletries. http://www.paris35.com

* Sightseeing: Visit the Crown of Thorns *

Did you know that the Crown of Thorns supposedly worn by Jesus at the Crucifixion has been in France since Saint Louis (King Louis IX) bought it from the Empoeror of Constantinople in the 13th century? Sainte-Chapelle was built specifically to house the relic up until the French Revolution, when the crown was transferred to the Bibliothèque Nationale (national library). In 1806 it was returned to the church, and has been kept in Notre-Dame Cathedral ever since. It’s displayed to the public every 1st Friday of the month (next one is tomorrow, September 1) as well as Lent Fridays (and Good Friday). The reliquaries made to house the crown (which has lost all of its thorns over the years to different religious sites around the world) are on display daily in the treasury (entry €3.50). Read more online at: http://www.cathedraledeparis.com/EN/D2.asp

* Nightlife: Dancing at the Caveau de la Huchette *

This Latin Quarter jazz club has now been open for 60 years, so to celebrate they’re now open until dawn for dancing – for free! The beginning of the evenings haven’t changed: they open nightly at 9:30pm , and live jazz musicians play from 10pm (€11 Sun-Thu, €13 Fri-Sat and the eve of holidays, €9 for students). But now from Thursday through Saturday night the club becomes a dance floor from 2:30am (free entrance from 2am ) with music from the 50s through the early 80s until dawn. Drinks start at €5. Not a bad address to remember for all of you who are allergic to techno and hip-hop! Caveau de la Huchette: 5 rue de la Huchette, 5th, M° St-Michel. Tel 01 43 26 65 05, http://www.caveaudelahuchette.fr/

* Sightseeing & Entertainment: Relive the Belle Epoch in Style *

Maxim’s is a historically listed Belle Epoch restaurant between the Place de la Concorde and Place de la Madeleine. It’s also a museum: the owner Pierre Cardin has collected over 550 Belle Epoch masterpieces from all over the world created by Majorelle, Tiffany, Gallé, Massier, displayed in the three floors above the restaurant, recreated to resemble the apartment of a celebrated courtesan. The museum is open Wed-Sun, 2pm – 5:30pm . One-hour tours at 2pm , 3:15pm , and 4:30pm (entry and tour €15).

You can also relive a bit of the Belle Epoch cabaret era immortalized by Toulouse-Lautrec by attending one of the dinner shows. Every Tuesday and Saturday, 4pm-5:45pm is the “1900 Spectacle”, which includes a light meal, storytelling about the history of the stars who have visited Maxim’s over the last century, and then a concert by Soprano Véronique Fourcaud-Hélène of the greatest songs of the era. This costs €55. Every last Friday of the month is the “Evening of Cabaret”, a black tie dinner and dancing event with Gypsy violinists, gourmet meal, Belle Epoch songs by Véronique Fourcaud-Hélène, and then ball dancing until the wee hours. The price for this is €220. A classy alternative to the typical cabaret night at the Moulin Rouge or Lido ! For more info visit http://www.maxims-artnouveau-museum.com

* Practical Info: Paris Airport Info *

The tourism office of Paris has finally opened a Tourist Welcome and Information Center at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle (terminal 2F). It’s open daily from 9am- 8pm , and provides help with hotel reservations, getting into and around Paris , and info on events. The Aeroport de Paris (ADP) bilingual website is also more user-friendly these days (http://www.aeroportsdeparis.fr). You can get a massage at the airport now….that is, if you get through security with enough time to enjoy one. Leaving the US is a piece of cake. Going back is a different matter. My Canadian friend was so nervous the last time she flew that the security staff who “interview” each passenger at the check-in flagged her and we had to go through a second security point. No fun. In response to the extra security measures taken for US-bound flights, Air France has moved, as of today, all of their US flight departures to Terminal 2E (except for flights to Detroit and Cincinnati, which still use Terminal 2C). As always, give yourself plenty of time at Charles-de-Gaulle, which still has construction slowing things down.

* History: Vintage Articles on Paris *

I found the Old & Sold website while surfing around. They specialize in online auctioning of antiques, but for some reason also have a huge index of old articles about Paris, many dating back to 1915. They’re mostly tourism articles, about the museums, monuments and sights of Paris such as “Loitering in Paris ” (parts 1 and 2), “At the Great Paris Exposition” from 1903, and “Fashionable Paris” from 1900. Others are about Parisian life in general, many written (anonymously) like a blog, such as “Red Tape”, “Paris Prepares to Receive the Germans”, and the excellent “Love in Paris” from 1910 that begins, “People are wrong to leave Paris in the summer.” Ha! Just try and not get sucked into reading all of these wonderful articles… http://www.oldandsold.com/articles35/paris-1.shtml

* Shopping: Paris Fashion Directory Online *

Guide Mode Paris is only in French, but those of you into the latest fashions will find tons of helpful info, from the latest boutiques to the up-and-coming brands. There are also articles on the latest trends, fashion events, cool nightlife, and openings (like the new Chrome Hearts boutique on avenue Montaigne, opened in July). It’s run by three Parisian women, and members are welcome to add their own comments to the daily blog-style entries. http://www.guideparismode.fr

* Adventure: Cycling and Horse Racing *

Roue Libre, the bicycle renting and touring service of the RATP, has teamed up with France Galop, the company that runs the two hippodromes in the Bois de Boulogne . Through the rest of 2006, you can rent bikes from Roue Libre at the Hippodrome de l’Auteuil or Hippodrome de Longchamp to go cycling through the Bois de Boulogne on Sundays and holidays from 10am-6pm , and you’ll receive a free invitation to check out the races. Roue Libre also now has electric bikes for all of you lazy bastards out there (I mean c’mon, Paris is almost completely flat!) at their location in Les Halles. For more info visit their bilingual site http://www.rouelibre.fr/.

* Paris Poet Touring the US *

Paris expat and poet Michelle Noteboom will be touring the US in September and October to give readings from her new book of poetry, "Edging", released by Cracked Slab Books. For information on the book (and to to get a copy of it), check out their website: http://crackedslabbooks.com Michelle would love to see some of you poetry and Paris lovers at the readings if you’re on the tour circuit:

Sept 9, 3pm : Ear Inn Readings with Mike Graves and Sarah Sarai: 326 Spring Street, lower Manhattan : New York , NY

Sept 15, 7pm : Woodland Pat tern with Roberto Harrison: 720 Locust St ; Milwaukee , WI 53212 ; tel (414) 263-5001

Sept 16, all day: Wave Books Poetry Bus: Lisa Fishman’s Poetry Farm; 2718 State Road 213; Orfordville , WI 53576

Sept 18, 7pm : Viterbo University : Fine Arts Center Recital Hall, 900 Viterbo Drive ; LaCrosse , WI 54601

Sept 21, 7pm : Schuler’s Books & Music: 2660 28th Street ; Grand Rapids , MI 49512 ; tel (616) 942-7330

Oct 6, 8pm : Discrete Series Chicago, Elastic Arts space: 2830 N. Milwaukee Ave , 2nd floor; Chicago IL

Oct 9, 7pm : Shaman Drum Bookshop: 311-315 South State Street ; Ann Arbor , MI

Oct 17, 7pm : Prairie Lights: 15 South Dubuque St ; Iowa City , Iowa 52240 ; tel (319) 337-2681

Oct 20, 7pm : All Gallery, with Juliet Pat terson: 319 Peck St ; New Haven , CT ; tel (203) 671-5175

Oct 25, 5pm : Bowery Poetry Club, with Geoffrey Cruikshank Hagenbuckle and Africa Wayne: 308 Bowery @ Bleecker; New York , NY ; (212) 614-0505

Oct 27, tba: MiPoesias with Bruce Covey and Reb Livingston: Stain Bar, 766 Grand Street ; Brooklyn NY 11211 ; tel (718) 387-7840

Oct 31, tba: Bluestockings with TBA: 172 Allen St between Stanton and Rivington; NY , NY ; tel (212) 777-6028

* Check out the Calendar *

Updated weekly, the calendar currently has listings for soirées at Versailles, free rock concerts in Paris, a jazz fundraiser for the Lebanese Red Cross, an Indian parade, a free skating event, grape harvesting, a theatre costume fashion show and a pyrotechnic festival at the Parc de la Villette. Read about them and more at: www.secretsofparis.com/calendar/

* Heather’s Tours and Vacation Planning *

Coming to Paris and want to make the most of your trip? Don’t have any friends here to show you around and give you the lowdown on all of the best places to eat, shop and go out at night? Read about my custom tours and vacation planning services on the Secrets of Paris website: /customtours/

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